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Elder witnessed dog slaughter

Chris Windeyer
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 18/06) - Like many Inuit elders, Iqaluk Siqiniq wants to know what happened to her family's dogs.

Not long after Siqiniq moved with her father from Cape Dorset to Apex to be with her mother, Siqiniq, now an elder herself, says RCMP officers took away their sled dogs. That was 1953.

"Yes, they slaughtered our dogs," she said, taking a break from cards at the Iqaluit Elders' Centre. "(The RCMP) brought Inuit to Apex and told them they couldn't have as many dogs as they used to."

Speaking through translator Gloria Putumiraqtuq, Siqiniq said her family and others began to go hungry because they no longer had enough dogs to go hunting for country food. She said she supports the Qikiqtani Inuit Association's plan to conduct a truth commission into the dog slaughter.

A report released by the RCMP found no evidence of a systematic dog slaughter, but critics of the report say they aren't surprised the national police force cleared its own name.

Siqiniq said she'd like to ask the two Mounties who worked in Apex at the time what happened to her family's dogs.

"There are people out there who can say what happened," she said.

As a youth, Siqiniq said she used to have to walk from Apex to West 40 to go to school. She grins at the suggestion that it was a long walk for a little girl.

She left school in Grade 4 to help her father build houses in Apex, but remembers when the area was little more than the Hudson's Bay store.

Siqiniq said the creation of Nunavut has had the effect of unifying Inuit.

"A long time ago we didn't know who people were and where they came from," she said. "Now we know who they are and where they are from."

As for today's Inuit youth, Siqiniq said she'd like to see them speak with elders to learn Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional knowledge) and Inuktitut. With those, Siqiniq said, youth can create new stories to remember today's elders.